The sixth-seeded Kentucky women’s basketball team survived a challenge from the 11th-seeded Princeton Tigers to advance to the round of 32. Kentucky beat the Tigers 82-77.
The Wildcats won with a team effort. Four of the team’s starters scored in double digits and six players recorded six or more points. They were led by the Cats’ star senior tandem of Maci Morris and Taylor Murray.
Morris looked like a star again. In her five previous games, the Bell County native shot a combined 26 percent from the floor. Morris scored 19 points against the Tigers in her most productive game since late January. She also had four rebounds and an assist.
Murray, like her teammate of four years, had 19 points, but she had a little more on the rest of the stat sheet. Murray recorded five rebounds, four assists and three steals while shooting an impressive 7-of-11 from the field.
The Wildcats began the game in good form, fighting their way to a 9-6 lead in the first four minutes of play before the Tigers turned up the heat. Princeton went on a brief 6-3 run in the next two-and-a-half minutes to tie the game at 12. Both teams went scoreless for nearly two minutes after this run. With 1:45 remaining, Blair Green took the lid off with a layup assisted by fellow freshman Rhyne Howard. Princeton responded with an 8-2 run to end the quarter with a score of 20-16 in favor of the Tigers.
The second quarter began with a 7-2 Princeton run to give the Tigers a commanding 27-18 lead. With just under eight minutes left in the half, Murray made a layup to spark a 13-2 Wildcat run. This run was led by Howard, who would score seven of the team’s 17 second quarter points. The run put Kentucky on top, 31-29. The Tigers answered this run with an 8-2 burst to give the 11 seed a 37-33 lead at halftime.
The third quarter belonged entirely to Kentucky. Morris buried three of the team’s four three-pointers in the quarter. Along with a layup, these three-pointers gave Morris 11 third quarter points. The Wildcats outscored the Tigers 28-15 in the quarter to take a 61-52 lead into the final quarter of play.
The Tigers mounted a small comeback effort to outscore Kentucky by four in the fourth, but it was not enough as the Wildcats walked away with an 82-77 win.
Kentucky will face the three-seed NC State Wolfpack on Monday, March 25.